Sailrocket 2 attempts a new World Speed Sailing Record

Sailrocket 2 during a recent test sail
.. .
As Gizmodo says, there's not much room for a cooler, but Paul Larsen's Sailrocket 2 isn't designed for a casual afternoon sailing. It's super-sleek, has a secret weapon, is engineered to set a new speed sailing speed record, and it's in Namibia right now trying to do just that.

Despite the name and the possession of a secret weapon, the Vestas Sailrocket 2 doesn't use any combustible propellants to skim across the water. It's only power source is the wind, captured by a highly engineered sail that its designers hope will help it set a new world speed sailing record, by beating one of the barriers to going above 60 knots for a sail-powered craft.

One of the problems facing sailboats as they approach 60 knots is that the water passing over their foils turns to vapor, in a phenomenon known as cavitation. Not only does this create drag in the water, but it can also lead to instabilities and crashes.

So the Sailrocket 2 is not only designed to remain stable should cavitation become an issue, but it's also got a secret weapon—specially designed foils that can be deployed that are immune to this problem.

They should allow the craft to literally sail past the 60 knot mark, which has been compared to breaking the sound barrier for wind powered watercraft, minus the sonic boom.

Skipper/Project leader Paul Larsen has said, 'This is a step into the unknown and it's hard to predict exactly what the scale of the issues might be. With this much innovation, some times you have to 'unlearn' aspects of what you know so that you can be open to the new ways that will ultimately take you forward. Before it was all about the record itself. In a way we have moved beyond that and are trying to break through the very physics of the sport itself.

'We romantically look at boats as craft that can take us on adventures over far horizons to new and wondrous places. Whilst VESTAS Sailrocket 2 may challenge many conventions in her pursuit of outright speed and efficiency, with respect to discovery and adventure, she is still every bit a sailing boat. New lands await and our eyes will be wide open. The journey will continue to be fascinating.'

The previous record stands at 55.65 knots, or about 64 mph, and was set by a kite surfer in the waters off Namibia which are known for their high winds through the months of September to December.

So that's where the Sailrocket 2 is currently making its attempts to snatch the title.

Vestas Sailrocket 2 was launched in April this year in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. She was promptly shipped to Namibia where Paul and his team have carried out initial trials over six weeks. This comprised of system checks and low to medium speed sailing up to speeds of 40 knots. The team were very happy with how this radical and highly unconventional boat performed her most basic but essential tasks.

They have no illusions about her single minded purpose however. Outright speed is the goal and despite all their efforts to date, this challenge is still just beginning. With this much innovation, they aren't expecting an easy ride.

Windows for success are notoriously fragile. Watch for the window!
http://www.sail-world.com/91009